Pakistani singer's career almost cut short after car accident theatened vocal cords

Qurat-ul-ain Balouch's fresh take on contemporary Sufi and folk songs makes the music accessible to a new generation.
Qurat-ul-ain Balouch's fresh take on contemporary Sufi and folk songs makes the music accessible to a new generation.PHOTO: COURTESY OF QURAT-UL-AIN BALOUCH

But Pakistani singer Qurat-ul-ain Balouch worked hard to recover from a car accident that doctors said could impact her vocal cords

Pakistani singer Qurat-ul-ain Balouch's career could have been cut short not long after it took off.

In 2013, two years after she had achieved a breakthrough performing title track of the successful Pakistani television series Humsafar (Companion), a car accident left her with a serious neck injury that doctors said could adversely impact her vocal cords.

"When I found out, I was devastated. Music is a kind of lifeline for me. I cannot imagine life without it," says the 27-year-old singer, who is better known as QB.

The slow recovery from the accident made her focus on what she calls "small things" in life.

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She kept working on her voice, sometimes locking herself up and singing alone till it hurt.

She will be holding her first solo concert in Singapore tomorrow at The Star Gallery. The show, Saaz Aur Suroor (Instrument And Melody), will present a mix of soulful Sufi music and ghazals.

She told The Straits Times in a telephone interview from Pakis- tan's capital Islamabad: "I grew up listening to old Pakistani music. I didn't understand any of it then, but loved how it sounded. My father also loved the music and we would listen to it together." Her father is a retired army officer and mother a banker.

As a result of her popularity in Humsafar, which starred Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, she now has fans not just in Pakistan, but also in India, Europe and North America. So QB, who performed with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012, now divides her time between Virginia in the United States and Islamabad.

Last year, she released her first English cover song, Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, and her debut album is due out next year.

Concert organiser Momentz, which is presenting the show as part of the Global Citizens Forum featuring talent from Pakistan and India, says QB is well suited for what it is trying to achieve.

Says Momentz director Azzah Atique, 35: "She is the only young, female singer presenting a fusion of contemporary Sufi and folk songs. Her fresh take on classics makes this music accessible to a new generation and appealing to purists as well."

QB, who will make her movie debut next year in a romantic film called Tum Hi To Ho, opposite Danish Taimoor, is fully aware of the need for experimentation for the music to stay relevant.

She says: "Our rich folk music has been fading for some time in Pakistan. We now have a new generation of musicians who have inspired me to look at new ways of presenting these songs."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Singing career almost cut short'. Print Edition | Subscribe